Who’s who in Ireland’s 2013 Eurovision Song Contest semi final?: aka Can Ireland make it to the Final?

Adrian Kavanagh.

39 countries will be competing in this  year’s Eurovision Song Contest. The previous post identified the countries that Ireland’s 2013 entry, Ryan Dolan with Only Love Survives, will be facing in the first semi final of Eurovision Song Contest 2013 on May 14th 2013, as well as the other countries (“Big 5″/Hosts group) that will be voting in this semi final.

Figure 1: Average points awarded to Irish acts by country in all Eurovision Song Contest finals and semi finals between 1998 and 2012

Figure 1: Average points awarded to Irish acts by country in all Eurovision Song Contest finals and semi finals between 1998 and 2012

This post will look at these countries in some more detail. The good news is that, unlike previous years, this time around Ireland would seem to be favoured to qualify from this semi-final on the basis of the past voting history of the countries voting in this particular semi-final (see Figure 1 above) and on how Ireland’s semi-final qualification record compares with most of the other countries competing in this semi -final. But the doomsday prognostications of 2011 and 2012 did not pan out and the Irish act did go on to make it to the final, so maybe the reverse will happen in 2013? 😮 

1. Austria: With an on-off relationship with Eurovision over the past decade or so culminating in a break from the contest of four years ahead of the 2011 contest, Austria has only had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi-finals/finals on eight occasions from 1998 onwards but have only given us a total of 16 points (out of a maximum of 120) over these years. Not great. Only three Irish entries – Millenium of Love in 2000, Jedward’s Lipstick in the 2011 Final (winning four points in the final but no points in the semi-final!?) and Jedward’s Waterline in the 2012 Semi Final (winning eight points in the final but no points in the final!?) – have posed any interest for the Austrian voters. In this competition, the Irish act would be hoping for some points from Austria but probably not a lot of these. On the plus side, Austria’s semi-final qualification record is poor and not as good as Ireland’s. Semi Final qualification record 25%: One qualification (2011) out of four attempts (2005, 2007, 2011, 2012). Recent Eurovision record (during 2000s): Not great. Their best performance came in 2003 with the novelty entry, Alf Poier’s Weil der Mensch zählt, which you may remember was on just before Mickey Joe Hart in the Riga Final. In the meantime, they’ve been out of the contest on and off for a few times but Austria did record a decent result in 2011 when Nadine Beiler made it to the Final with The Secret is Love although it only finished in 18th place in that contest (and in fairness deserved to finish much higher). This year’s entry: Natalia Kelly (is she Irish? J ) with Shine -I think this is a pretty good song and it is easily one of the best entries from Austria over the past few decades. This could well bring Austria its best result in ten years. Being given the No.1 draw position won’t unduly help or hinder Austria’s prospects, though the song might well have benefited from a better draw. If this country was an English soccer team it would be: Burnley

2. Estonia: As part of the Nordic voting bloc that Ireland finds itself in, the Estonians proved to be relatively generous to us in our fallow Eurovision period, but the points from Taalin dried up somewhat as our fortunes improved somewhat in recent years. Estonia has had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi-finals/finals on sixteen occasions over the 1998-2010 period and have given us a total of 36 points (out of a maximum of 192). The act that won the most points off Estonia was Dustin the Turkey (7), while Brian Kennedy getting 6 points from Estonia in both the semi-final and final in 2006 and Sinead Mulvey got 4 points from Estonia in 2009. Jedward won 3 points from Estonia in the 2011 semi-final but failed to take any points from Estonia in both the 2011 and 2012 finals. Estonia’s semi-final qualification record is not great but has notably improved in recent years – Ireland’s record is slightly better than the Estonian one. Semi Final qualification record 33%: Estonia have competed in each of the semi-finals since the system was introduced in 2004: having failed to qualify in the first five years of this system, the Estonian record improved in the last few years and they have qualified for the final on three occasions (2009, 2011, 2012). Recent Eurovision record (during 2000s): A bit of a lopsided U-shaped curve trend here – Estonia (having been one of the strongest of the new Eastern European countries along with Croatia in the 1990s) made a strong start to the 2000s with three Top 5 results, including the country’s first (and only) ever Eurovision victory with Everybody in 2001, which itself followed by Estonia’s only other Top 3 placing with Sahlene’s Runaway finishing 3rd in Taalin in 2002 (one of the best performances by a host country in Eurovision in my humble opinion). But after 2002 Estonia’s Eurovision fortunes declined at a time when a lot of other Eastern countries were dominating the contest and didn’t make a Eurovision Final for a number of years (culminating in the risible Leto Svet in 2008, a song that almost made (and I stress almost) Dustin the Turkey look like a credible Eurovision entry). In the past four contests Estonia have done somewhat better however and managed 6th place finishes in both the 2009 and 2012 Finals. Estonian acts often tend to do less well than they should do. This year’s entry: Birgit Õigemeel with Et uus saaks alguse. After last year’s result marking a vast improvement on Estonia’s record over the past decade, the Estonians have gone for more of the same this year and are sending another gentle ballad, which could well be sung again in the Estonian tongue (and over the past ten years Estonia has tended to do better in Eurovision when they sing in the native Estonian tongue). In my opinion, this is an even better ballad than last year’s Estonian entry, but there are a lot of ballad entries in this contest and especially from the other Former Soviet states. It won’t be helped by getting the No. 2 draw position in this semi-final, although the No.2 draw is not as bad to get in a semi-final as in a final… It will be helped by the fact that a lot of Estonia’s friends in terms of past Eurovision voting trends are voting in this semi-final… If this country was an English soccer team it would be: Newcastle Utd.

3. Slovenia: During the jury voting era of the 1990s, Slovenia was one of Ireland’s most ardent supporters in Eurovision, but this has not been the case during since the introduction of televoting in 1998. The Slovenes had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi-finals/finals on sixteen occasions over the 1998-2010 period and have given us a total of 15 points (out of a maximum of 132). That’s not a great tally by any means. Jedward won one point from Slovenia in the 2011 semi-final but no points off Slovenia in either of the 2011 or 2012 finals. Niamh Kavanagh got 2 points from Slovenia in the 2010 semi final (but no points in the final), as did Sinead Mulvey in the 2009 semi final, while Mickey Joe Harte (2003) and Brian Kennedy (2006 sf) won 3 points. Dawn back in 1998 is the Irish act that has won the most points (4) off Slovenia during the 1998-2012 period. So Ireland cannot expect too many points from Slovenia in this semi-final (especially with three other Former Yugoslav states to vote for in the same semi-final), but winning a small number of points at least could be a possibility. Slovenia’s own qualification record is poor and pales in comparison with Ireland’s. Semi Final qualification record 22%: One of the decidedly unluckier Eurovision nations, Slovenia has taken part in the Eurovision semi-final each year since the system was introduced in 2004, but have been successful on just two occasions (Alenka Gotar in 2007, Maja Keuc in 2011). . Semi Final qualification record 80%: Apart from 2008 when they pre-qualified for the final as hosts, Serbia has taken part in each semi-final since entering as an independent state in 2007 and have been successful on four of the five occasions (2007, 2010, 2011, 2012) with the “curse of last year’s hosts” presumably not helping the Serb act in the 2009 semi-final. Recent Eurovision record (during 2000s): Slovenia usually have to live off the scraps of the Balkan bloc vote, once Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia have taken their share, and really seem to have few Eurovision friends. This means that the Slovene entries have tended to fare poorly in the last decade and largely undeservedly so – even when Slovenia made it to the Final their acts only found themselves in the lower half of the table when it came to the placings. It’s a pity as I really liked their 2011 and 2012 entries. This year’s entry: Hannah Mancini with Straight Into Love – Slovenia has deliberately gone for a dance style entry this year. At first glance it remained to be seen if this is wise move especially as a lot of other earlier selecting countries went for similar entries and it seemed as if this could struggle to make it to the Final. However, the later entries in this semi-final have tended to be ballad/mid-tempo entries and this now has a better chance of standing out in this competition. Although this does get a bit repetitive, it does have a catchy beat behind it and it is a bit of a grower. However, the No. 3 draw position is as bad as it gets in a Eurovision semi-final and Slovenia will have a struggle to qualify here… If this country was an English soccer team it would be: Oldham Athletic.

4. Croatia: Ireland’s points tally from Croatia in recent Eurovision contests has not been especially noteworthy but Irish acts have occasionally won a few points from the Croat voters in contests held over the past decade and a half, although they have not given the very high marks to Ireland. Croatia has had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi-finals/finals on fifteen occasions from 1998 onwards and have given Ireland a total of 26 points (out of a maximum of 180) over these years. The most popular Irish acts with Croat voters were Eamonn Toal in 2000 and the McCauls in the 2005 semi-final, with both of these winning 5 points from Croatia. On the basis of these trends Ireland will not be expecting the douze points from Croatia but might be hopeful of winning a few points from Zagreb nonetheless. Croatia’s semi-final qualification record is not bad but not good either and slightly worse than Ireland’s. Semi Final qualification record 50%: Croatia has competed in each one of the semi-finals since the semi-final system commenced in 2004, with the exception of 2006. Croatia have qualified for the final on four occasions (2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009): consistent qualifiers in the earlier years of this system, their record in recent years has not been as positive and they have failed to qualify for the final since 2009. Recent Eurovision record (during 2000s): In the 1990s Croatia looked likely to be the first of the new Eastern European countries (entering the contest for the first time) to win the contest with a number of strong entries in that decade, but the Croat performances declined in the early 2000s to that of being regular finalists but not really serious contenders and then in the late 2000s to one in which they’ve struggled to even make it to the finals.  This year’s entry: Super Klapa with Mižerja– in fairness this is the sort of ethnic ballad entry that worked fairly well for Croatia in the late 1990s and 2000s. Given the number of Former Yugoslav countries voting in this semi-final, this entry should be well placed to make it out of this semi-final. Indeed, as the only traditional Balkan ballad in this year’s contest, this could well see Croatia emulating the strong results in recent years for similar entries from Bosnia and Serbia. The draw won’t help this, but this song’s prospects are much better than its current rating by the bookies. It would probably be a song that would have suited the era with orchestras… If this country was an English soccer team it would be: Charlton Athletic.

5. Denmark:  Obviously still feeling bad about all the pillaging back in Viking times, Denmark have been one of Ireland’s best friends in terms of awarding us Eurovision points and indeed only rank behind the United Kingdom in this regard.  We too respond in kind and Danish acts have scored well in terms of winning points from Ireland in recent Eurovision contests. The Danes have had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals on fifteen occasions over the 1999-2012 period and have given us a total of 59 points (out of a maximum of 180). In fairness, that’s quite good! Jedward won 10 points off Denmark in the 2011 semi-final and then went on to win the elusive douze points off the Danes in that year’s final, but were not as successful in 2012 where they won 2 points off Denmark in the semi-final and 4 points off Denmark in the final. Sinead Mulvey won 10 points from Denmark in 2009 as she narrowly missed out in the Moscow semi final, Niamh Kavanagh won 6 points from Denmark in last year’s semi final but then got no points from Denmark in the final, with Brian Kennedy winning 5 points from Denmark  in both the semi final and final in 2006. So a strong Irish act would expect to win big points off Denmark in this semi-final and given the countries that are not competing in this semi-final (no Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Finland). Denmark’s qualification record is quite good and has been excellent in more recent year, ranking as being much better than Ireland’s. Semi Final qualification record 75%: With the exception of the 2006 contest, Denmark have competed in each of the semi-finals since the system was introduced in 2004 and have qualified for the final on six occasions (2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012). Recent Eurovision record (during 2000s): After some indifferent showings in the contest during much of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Denmark’s fortunes took a turn for the better in the 2000s (when those of most other Western European countries were declining) and they’ve been one of the most consistent Eurovision countries over the past decade, winning the contest in 2000 with Fly On The Wings Of Love and with two recent Top 5 Final placing’s in recent years with In A moment Like This in 2010 and New Tomorrow in 2011. This year’s entry: Emmelie de Forest with Only Teardrops– this is one of the hot tips to win this year’s contest and deservedly so – this is a very good song. It has one of the worst draw positions in this semi-final, but that won’t stop it from qualifying – it may prevent it from winning this semi-final though…if not the final! If this country was an English soccer team it would be: Everton.

6. Russia: Russia had thirteen chances to vote for Irish entries between 1998 and 2011 and over these thirteen occasions only managed to award one point over this time period to an Irish act – to Brian Kennedy ( in the 2006 semi-final). Hadly a case of “From Russia with Love”… Then rather surprisingly Russia awarded Jedward ten points in last year’s semi-final (although it is worth noting that only two other Former Soviet states – Moldova and Latvia – were competing in that semi-final), before returning to form for the final and awarding no points to the Irish entry. So with a sum total of eleven points across fifteen different semi-finals/finals that Russia could have voted for an Irish act, it looks unlikely as if there will be many points heading Ireland’s way from Moscow in the 2013 semi-final unless there is a repeat of the 2012 semi-final anomaly. Russia’s qualification record from semi-finals is excellent and obviously much better than Ireland’s. Semi Final qualification record 100%: Due to pre-qualifying for the final as a Top 10 country a number of times in the earlier years of the semi-final system and as hosts for the 2009 contest, Russia has taken part in Eurovision semi-finals on just five occasions and has been successful each time (2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012). Recent Eurovision record (during 2000s): One of the best of any Eurovision country. After an indifferent run of form after joining Eurovision in the 1990s leading to a two year sabbatical from the contest in 1998 and 1999, Alsou’s 2nd place in the 2000 Final with Solo marked the start of a very successful decade at Eurovision for Russia. t.A.T.u came within a few points of winning the 2003 Final, then Russia enjoyed three years of Top 3 finishes in succession between 2006 and 2008, culminating in Dima Bilan winning the contest with Believe in 2008 in Belgrade. After hosting the 2009 contest, Russian fortunes went into somewhat of a lull for a few years before returning with a granny shaped vengeance in 2012 when Buranovskiye Babushki finished 2nd with Party For Everybody (and came within a few points of winning the Final televote). This year’s entry: Dina Garipova with What If – in fairness this song ticks a lot of boxes – it’s a strong ballad in a year with (so far) relatively few ballads, as Dina has recently won the Russian version of the Voice it is safe to expect strong vocals from her on the night)(s), it has a worthy theme and it should pick up more votes from the juries than the Babushki did last year. To be honest, this sounds like the sort of song Ireland won with during the 1990s. This will sail through to the Final and is one of the real contenders in this semi-final to qualify and go on to win this year’s Eurovision along with Denmark and The Ukraine, to go on to win Eurovision. Russia’s draw position is not great, but (like Denmark) this won’t stop this song from qualifying… If this country was an English soccer team it would be: Chelsea.

Zlata Ognevich (Ukraine, Eurovision 2013)

Zlata Ognevich (Ukraine, Eurovision 2013)

7. Ukraine: Ukraine entered the Eurovision song contest in 2003 and since then have had nine opportunities to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi-finals and final, in which they have given us a sum total of 3 points (out of a maximum of 108). Definitely not good!!! Mickey Joe Harte got one point from Ukraine in 2003 and Brian Kennedy got two points from Ukraine in the 2006 final. There cannot, hence, be any great expectations of a big Irish vote coming from Kyiv for this semi-final. To make matters worse, the Ukranians have had one of the strongest Eurovision records of any country over the past decade and have a perfect record when it comes to semi-final qualification – an obviously stronger record than Ireland’s. Semi Final qualification record 100%: Having joined the contest for the first time in 2003, The Ukraine have taken part in the Eurovision semi-final each year since the system was introduced in 2004, with the exception of 2005 (pre-qualified as hosts) and 2007 (pre-qualified due to a Top 10 finish in the 2006 Final) and the Ukranian acts have been successful in each one of the seven semi-finals that they have competed in. This makes them the strongest country statistically (on the basis of having been in more semi-finals than Russia) in terms of semi-final qualification in this particular contest. Recent Eurovision record (during 2000s): One of the stronger Eurovision countries and won the contest on their second attempt in 2004 with Ruslana’s Wild Dances. Ukranian entries have tended to do very well in most contests since then (and have always qualified out of the Eurovision semi finals) but have not been able to translate these consistently strong performances into another Eurovision win. This year’s entry: Zlata Ognevich with Gravity: Ukraine tends to specialist in showier pop entries, but (like Mika Newton in 2011) this year Ukraine are opting for a power ballad and quite a good one at that. This will make the Final and should do very well: the vocal gymnastics of the version that won the Ukranian selection probably might have been too much for the Eurovision audience but the new version of this entry has toned these down. Ukraine do not have a good draw position in this semi-final, but the song’s quality and Ukraine’s past history in the competition suggests that this should qualify and this could prove to be a contender in the final. If this country was an English soccer team it would be: Arsenal.

8. The Netherlands: Our uncanny knack of getting drawn in the same Eurovision semi-final as the Dutch means that the Netherlands have had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi-finals/finals on seventeen occasions – over these contests they have given Ireland a total of 33 points (out of a maximum of 204) over the 1998-2012 period. This is not a great tally by any means but it obviously a better voting record than for a lot of the other countries competing in this semi-final. The Dutch televoters have tended to show a liking for traditional Irish ballads, in the past rewarding Eamonn Toal and Brian Kennedy, as well as Niamh Kavanagh, who got 8 points from the Netherlands in the 2010 semi final (but then no points in the final). That being said, Jedward did win 5 points from The Netherlands in both the 2011 and 2012 finals. The Netherlands has a very poor qualifying record from Eurovision semi-finals and the Irish record is much stronger. Semi Final qualification record 11%: The Netherlands have taken part in the Eurovision semi-final each year since the system was introduced in 2004; they were successful in the very first such contest but have failed to make it out of the semi-finals in each of the last eight years. It’s a pity as I really liked their 2011 and 2012 entries. Recent Eurovision record (during 2000s): Almost as bad as it can get especially for a country that has won the contest on four occasions, with the exception of a qualification for the 2004 Final (Reunion’s Without You which then went on to finish a lowly 20th in the Final) and two 13th place finishes in the 2000 and 2002 Finals. No Dutch entry has reached the Eurovision Final since 2004. This year’s entry: Anouk with “Birds” – this is a very very different song from the usual Eurovision entries – some Eurovision followers will love this with a passion while others will hate it with a similar passion. If it can achieve the same niche as Albania’s 2012 entry, then this could bring the Dutch their best result at Eurovision for a very long time. This is ranked very highly by the bookies who rate this as a contender to not just qualify for the final but to go on and win the 2013 Eurovision. But the No. 8 draw position is statistically the second-worst draw position to get in a semi-final and this means that, when the Netherlands’ poor voting record in the 2000s is also factored in, that qualification for the final cannot be a certainty. If this country was an English soccer team it would be: Derby County.

9. Montenegro: As one of the newer Eurovision states, first debuting as an independent state in 2007, and having missed the 2010 and 2011 contests, Europe’s newest state has had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi-finals/finals on just four occasions – the 2007 final, the 2008 semi-final and the 2012 semi-final and final. Montenegro has awarded Ireland a sum total of two points (from a maximum potential point tally of 48) across these two contests – one point for Dustin the Turkey in 2008 and one point for Jedward in the 2012 semi-final. With three of the other Former Yugoslav countries also competing in this semi-final (meaning these will all be competing for the higher Montenegrin votes), Ireland is unlikely to figure strongly in the points being awarded by the Montegrins and just one point again from Podgorica might amount to the sum total of Irish ambitions here. Montenegro has a very poor Eurovision semi-final qualification record and have yet to reach a final after four attempts (three of which involved the Montenegrin act being drawn to perform first on the night) and this is obviously a much weaker record than Ireland’s. Semi Final qualification record 0%: Montenegro has competed in four semi-finals since they first entered Eurovision in 2007and have failed to qualify for the final on all four occasions (2007, 2008, 2009, 2012). Recent Eurovision record (during 2000s): It’s been poor picking for Montenegro at Eurovision since first taking part as an independent state in 2007, although it is worth noting that a Montenegrin boy band, No Name, did manage a Top 10 finish in the 2005 Final as the last act to ever represent Serbia and Montenegro at Eurovision. This year’s entry: Who See with Igranka – Montenegro continues their form of last year and brings something entirely different again to Eurovision – Balkan hip hop. In a semi final with so many ballads, this is certainly going to stand out, but whether it can muster enough jury votes to push this to Montenegro’s first Final qualification remains to be seen. Given their past record, Montenegro would have been hoping for a good draw, but unfortunately for them the No. 9 draw position is one of the worst draw positions in statistical terms to get in a semi-final. If this country was an English soccer team it would be: AFC Wimbledon.

10. Lithuania: Like Estonia and Denmark, Lithuania are also part of the Nordic voting bloc that has tended to be the most consistent supplier of Irish Eurovision points in recent years. Lithuania has had the opportunity to vote for the Irish act on twelve occasions in Eurovision semi-finals and finals since 1998 and have awarded a total of 36 points (out of a possible total of 144). This is a relatively good record in comparison with some of the other countries voting in this semi-final and Ireland would be hopeful of winning some points off Vilnius in this semi-final. Lithuania’s semi-final qualification record is not great but has notably improved in recent years – Ireland’s record is only slightly better than the Lithuanian one. Semi Final qualification record 50%: Lithuania have competed in each of the semi-finals since the system was introduced in 2004, with the exception of the 2007 contest: having failed to qualify in the first two years of this system, the Lithuanian record subsequently improved and they have now qualified for the final on four occasions (2006, 2009, 2011, 2012). Recent Eurovision record (during 2000s): After a number of poor results for the country’s first four entries, Lithuania achieves its best ever result in the 2006 Final when LT United’s “novelty” entry, We Are The Winners, inexplicably finished in 6th place. After a few more poor years, Lithuania seems to have finally found its Eurovision niche with almost operatic style ballad entries and has made three of the last four finals with such entries, but all of these have finished in the bottom half of the table. This year’s entry: Andrius Pojavis with Something– this is not my cup of tea, but it does have “something” about it and this entry is not without its supporters – it is likely to be there or thereabouts when the Final places are being decided. In statistical terms, the No. 10 draw position is by no means a bad one to get in a semi-final and the draw could help Lithuania’s prospects. If this country was an English soccer team it would be: Wigan Athletic.

Alyona Lanskaya, Belarus (Eurovision 2013)

Alyona Lanskaya, Belarus (Eurovision 2013)

11. Belarus: Belarus joined Eurovision in 2004, but Ireland tended to avoid Belarus in most semi-final draws over recent years. Up to last year, Ireland had never received any Eurovision points from Belarus. Belarus had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi-finals/finals on nine occasions since 2004 and have given us a total of 1 point (out of a maximum of 108) with this point going to Jedward’s Waterline in last year’s final. So it’s unlikely to be to be a case of a high points tally for Ireland from Minsk in 2013. The Belarus semi-final qualification record is poor and not as good as Ireland’s. Semi Final qualification record 22%: Belarus have competed in each of the semi-finals held between 2004 and 2012 (nine attempts) and have only qualified for the final on two occasions (2007, 2010). Recent Eurovision record (during 2000s): In some ways Belarus are the eastern version of Switzerland, a country whose Eurovision results are not as good as their entries probably deserve. Their best performance came in 2007 when Koldun finished in 6th place in the Final (and probably would have been higher but for getting an early draw position in that Final). You may remember he actually appeared on The Late Late Show a few months before the contest in Belgrade. Their only other finalists were 3+2 in 2010 with Butterflies – remember the butterfly winged costumes?  This year’s entry: Alyona Lanskaya with Solayoh  – Yes, Belarus have yet again changed their song – this not as dangerously catchy as their initial entry, Rhythm of Love, but this more conventional entry may better succeed in winning the necessary points to push Belarus into a Final for just the third time and one of this country’s best ever Eurovision showings. With all the other Former Soviet states in this semi-final sending ballads/low-tempo entries, Belarus may find it easier this year to pick up on the neighbourly voting. The No. 11 draw position is statistically one of the poorer draw positions to get in a semi-final, though this song is scoring well in terms of bookies’s odds. If this country was an English soccer team it would be: Milton Keynes Dons.

12. Moldova: As one of the newer Eurovision states, first debuting in 2005, Moldova have had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi-finals/finals on eleven occasions but have only given us a total of 3 points (out of a maximum of 1326) over the years. Not good. Our best ever vote from Moldova came in the 2009 semi-final when Sinead Mulvey got 2 points off the Moldovan televoters. Jedward failed to take any points from Moldova in last year’s final and the 2012 semi-final and final. Ireland would appear to be unlikely to take many points from Moldova in this semi-final and the likelihood would be that there would be no points from Chisnau for the Irish act. Moldova has an excellent semi-final qualification record (so long as their act is not singing to their teddy bear) and has qualified from each semi-final they have competed in, bar one, a record that is much better than Ireland’s. Semi Final qualification record 86%: Moldova have competed in each of the semi-finals since they first entered Eurovision in 2005, with the exception of the 2006 contest: and failed to qualify for the final on just one occasion (in the infamous 2008 “Dustin” semi-final), having qualified for the final on six occasions including the last four contests (2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012). Recent Eurovision record (during 2000s): Moldova regularly makes it to the Final but the Moldovan acts usually end up in the latter half of the table when the Final rankings are decided (although their last two entries have just about edged into the top half of the Final tables with 12th and 11th places finishes respectively). Moldova’s first ever entry, Zdob şi Zdub’s Bunica bate toba (with drum-banging granny) still remains that country’s most successful entry, with Natalia Barbu’s fight being the only other entry from Moldova to make it into the Top 10 in a Eurovision Final. This year’s entry: Aliona Moon with O Mie – In a contest with a number of strong ballad entries, especially from other Former Soviet states such as Ukraine, Russia and Estonia, I think this could struggle to win votes and bring about a rare non-qualification for Moldova. However, the decision to perform this in Romanian and not English seems to be a good one as the song sounds much better in the native tongue. The No. 12 draw position is not the worst one to get, but not the best either… If this country was an English soccer team it would be: Fulham.

13. Ireland!!!

Ryan Dolan (Ireland, Eurovision 2013)

Ryan Dolan (Ireland, Eurovision 2013)

14. Cyprus: We’re both islands, so there should be a reciprocal vote between us as part of an islands voting bloc? Well no, not really. Cyprus has had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi-finals/finals on sixteen occasions and have given us a total of 15 points (out of a maximum of 192) over the years. This is not good but it is even worse when one consider that Ireland has won only one point off Cyprus since the 2003 Final with most of the Cyprus points having been won by Eamonn Toal (7) in 2000 and Mickey Joe Harte (7) in 2003. Even Jedward failed to interest the Cypriot voters in 2011 and 2012, winning no votes off Cyprus despite competing in the same semi-final as the Cypriots on both occasions. The likelihood appears to be that Ireland should not expect to win any points off Cyprus in this contest. The Cyprus semi-final qualification record is not great and is not as good as Ireland’s. Semi Final qualification record 37%: With the exception of the 2005 contest, Cyprus has competed in each of the semi-finals since the system was introduced in 2004 and have qualified for the final on three occasions (2004, 2010, 2012). Recent Eurovision record (during 2000s): Cyprus recorded a very good 5th place showing in 2004 in Istanbul with Lisa Andreas and Stronger Every Minute. But unlike other of more eastern countries which did well in that contest and also went on to do well in the 2000s, the Cyprus record hasn’t been great with just two Final appearances with Ivi Adamou’s 16th placing in last year’s final with La La Love the best result of any Cypriot entry since 2004.  This year’s entry: Despina Olympiou with An me thimase– a pleasant Greek ballad, but it will not be helped by the fact that Greece is not voting in this semi-final and the fact that this semi-final is becoming increasingly ballad heavy. With opposition from other ballads from Estonia, Russia, Ukraine and Croatia, this may have a struggle on its hands to qualify. However, Cyprus may be helped by the fact that most of the other ballad entries (apart from Moldova) have been drawn in the first half of this semi-final while Cyprus have been drawn to perform in the second half of this semi-final. Getting to perform third from the end does also give this a chance of making it out of this semi-final.  If this country was an English soccer team it would be: Birmingham City.

15. Belgium: Having had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals on eleven occasions, Belgium had only given us a total of 12 points (out of a maximum of 132) over the 1998-2010 period, but Jedward took a further twelve points from Belgium across 2011’s semi final (5 points) and final (7 points) and a further eleven points across the 2012 semi final (7 points) and final (4 points). Dustin the Turkey (2008SF) also got 4 points from Belgium, so the Belgians tend to veer towards the, erm, less traditional Irish Eurovision fare. On the basis of the past few years in particular, as well as Ireland’s performance against the other countries in this semi-final in terms of winning Eurovision points from Belgium, Ireland would be hopeful of a relatively healthy points tally from Brussels. But might a more conventional Irish act not tickle the fancy of the Belgian voters? Belgium’s semi-final qualification record is very poor and not as good as Ireland’s. Semi Final qualification record 12%: With the exception of the 2004 contest, Belgium have competed in the semi-finals each year (2005-2012) and have only qualified for the final on just one occasion (2010). Recent Eurovision record (during 2000s): Like Belarus and Switzerland, Belgium has been rather unlucky over the past decade since almost winning the 2003 contest with Urban Trad’s Sanomi, although Belgium has entered some rather poor entries in some of these years (Copycat in 2009, for instance). Their best performance since 2003 was Tom Dice’s 6th place with Me and My Guitar in the 2010 Final – and it would have come very close to actually winning the Final had the voting been solely based on jury voting.  This year’s entry: Roberto Bellarossa with Love Kills – it’s not an awful song but it’s not really generating much interest amongst the Eurovision fanbase and before the performance positions were announced this seemed likely to add to Belgium’s poor recent record. But getting to perform second from last has increased Belgium’s prospects significantly and pushed it back into contention to qualify. If this country was an English soccer team it would be: Huddersfield.

16. Serbia: From the most influential country in the Former Soviet “voting bloc” to the most successful one in the Balkan/Former Yugoslav bloc. As a relatively recent entrant (and a very successful one at that) in its own right, Serbia has just had five chances to vote for Irish entries between 2007 and 2012 and just awarded a sum total of three points to Irish acts over this time period to an Irish act, with all of these going to Sinéad Mulvey in the 2009 semi-final in Moscow. Ireland can at best be hoping for a small number of points from Serbia in this semi-final and the likelihood of winning no points at all from Belgrade is a very strong one. Serbia’s qualification record from semi-finals is very good and is better than Ireland’s, having failed to qualify on just one occasion. Semi Final qualification record 80%: Apart from 2008 when they pre-qualified for the final as hosts, Serbia has taken part in each semi-final since entering as an independent state in 2007 and have been successful on four of the five occasions (2007, 2010, 2011, 2012) with the “curse of last year’s hosts” presumably not helping the Serb act in the 2009 semi-final. Recent Eurovision record (during 2000s): Consistently one of the better Eurovision performers – especially if the results for Serbia and Montenegro in 2004 and 2005 are added into the mix. The first act to perform for Serbia itself, Marija Šerifovic, won the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest with Molitva while Željko Joksimović finished in 3rd place in the 2012 Final with Nije ljubav stvar. Given the dominance of English language entries at Eurovision, especially since the native language rule was abolished in the late 1990s, Serbia’s performances have been even more impressive as it is one of a handful of countries that consistently send entries sung in their own language to the Eurovision. This year’s entry: Moje 3 with Ljubav je svuda – this pop entry marks a big change of pace for a country that has specialised in Balkan ballads throughout its Eurovision history. This is fun, but it’s not really standing out in this competition. Serbia are Serbia and this will qualify – especially as it has been allocated the best possible draw position (to perform last on the night) that you can get in a Eurovision semi-final – but I can’t see this making the Top 10 in the Final. If this country was an English soccer team it would be: Tottenham Hotspur (albeit more successful than Tottenham… >:) )

It is also worth taking into account the voting records of the three pre-qualified (Big 5/Host) countries who will be voting in Ireland’s semi-final.

Italy: Having stormed out of Eurovision in a huff in 1997 following a disappointing 4th place finish for the admittedly quite excellent Fiumi di Parole, the Italians were non-runners until their return to the contest in 2011 where their rather average (in my opinion) Buble pastiche bizarrely finished second in the Final, mainly thanks to a very jury votes. Mamma Mia! Italy did not have the opportunity to cast a vote for Ireland during the televoting era up to the 2011 contest; the last time that Italy got a chance to vote for Ireland was in the 1997 contest in Dublin when the Italian jury awarded Marc Roberts 10 points. Italy hence has only had four opportunities to vote for Ireland since the televoting era commenced in 1998 and missed out on the opportunity to award any points to Jedward both in the semi-final and final in 2011 and also in 2012. Great to have you back ragazzi… If the last two years sets the precedent, there may be niente da avere from Rome again this year. But maybe the Italians just don’t “get” Jedward and may be more interested in (and may award points to) more “conventional” Irish fare..

Sweden: Ireland has always been relatively generous to Sweden – the “core state” of the Nordic bloc states – in terms of Eurovision points, but the Swedes had not been as generous in return until the Jedward era began. Sweden had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi-finals/finals on eleven occasions between 1998 and 2010 but only gave Irish acts total of 11 points (out of a maximum of 132) over these years, with Brian Kennedy accounting for the bulk of the Swedish points, including 1 point in the 2006 semi-final and 5 points in the 2006 final. A history of disappointing Swedish televotes was rocked on its head in 2011 when Sweden awarded Jedward 10 points in the semi-final and the ever elusive douze points in the final, although the number of Swedish votes did drop to five for the following year’s final. So, overall, a total of 38 points from Sweden on fourteen voting opportunities (maximum of 168) between 1998 and 2012, meaning that Ireland might expect a relatively healthy points number from Sweden in this year’s semi-final, unless the Swedes only like Jedward…

United Kingdom: We finally “save all our kisses” for the country that has, by far, been Ireland’s best friend in the Eurovision song contest since the commencement of televoting in 1998. The bad news has been that, since the two semi-final system was introduced in 2008, the United Kingdom had tended to be drawn to vote in the other semi-final to the Irish one in most of these years, with the sole exception of 2010. With the exception of years in which the Irish act fared especially poorly overall (1999, 2001, 2007), Ireland has received at least 7 points each year from the United Kingdom (although they were not in a position to do in 2008 and 2009, when they could not vote in the Irish semi-final and the Irish act subsequently failed to make it the final). The only act that failed to win any points off the United Kingdom over this period was Dervish in 2007 and Irish acts earned the douze points from the United Kingdom in 2003 (Mickey Joe Harte), the 2005 semi-final (the McCauls) and the 2011 final (Jedward). The United Kingdom vote in the 2010 semi-final (the only Irish semi-final that they have voted in up to this year since the two semi system was introduced in 2008) was the difference between Niamh Kavanagh and Sweden’s Anna Bergendahl when it came to qualifying for that year’s final. The United Kingdom has awarded Ireland a whopping 113 points on the fourteen different occasions that they have had the chance to vote for Irish acts in the Eurovision semi-final and final, making them true friends indeed! And making it a very, very good thing that they are voting in this semi-final! Complaints over “friends and neighbours” voting? Not here…

So if past precedents are to be relied on, Ireland could be hopeful of winning relatively high numbers of Eurovision points in this semi-final from the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden and Lithuania and could be hopeful of taking at least a few points from countries such as Estonia, The Netherlands, Croatia and Belgium, as well as possibly also Slovenia, Romania, Austria and Italy. By contrast, Ireland may struggle to win any points at all off most of the Former Soviet states taking part in this semi final (Belarus, Ukraine, Russia and Moldova) as well as Balkan countries such as Serbia, Montenegro and Cyprus.

If we compare Ireland’s voting record in relation to the countries voting in this semi-final (across the 1998-2012 period) against that of the other fifteen countries that are competing in this, the following result would be predicted for this semi final: 1. Russia 141, 2. Serbia 126, 3. Ukraine 108, 4. Denmark 83, 5. Estonia 77, 6. Ireland 64, 7j. Cyprus/Lithuania 63, 9. Moldova 62, 10. Croatia 59, 11. Belarus 56, 12j. Belgium/Slovenia 51, 14. The Netherlands 36, 15. Austria 32, 16. Montenegro 27.  This has Ireland as one of the ten countries predicted to qualify from this semi-final, but the margins involved are quite tight and there are relatively few points separating Ireland and the countries just falling outside the Top 10, namely Belarus (8 points), Belgium (15 points) and Slovenia (15 points). While the analysis suggests that Russia, Serbia, Ukraine and Denmark are relatively safe bets to make it to the final, the same cannot be argued in relation to the countries found in the lower part of the Top 10 here!

(Carrying out a similar analysis for the other semi-final leads to the following results being predicted for Semi Final 2: 1. Greece 146, 2. Azerbaijan 118, 3. Armenia 93, 4. Israel 82, 5. Albania 77, 6. Norway 76, 7. Romania 73, 8. Georgia 65, 9j. Malta/Hungary 64, 11. Iceland 63, 12. Finland 53, 13. Bulgaria 49, 14. Latvia 43, 16. FYR Macedonia 37, 17. San Marino 35, 18. Switzerland 22. On the basis of this analysis, Greece, Azerbaijan (though the “curse of last year’s hosts” may yet figure!), Armenia and possibly also Israel would look like safe bets to make it to the final, but there is only a wafer-thin margin separating the other countries in this Top 10 with those just falling immediately outside of this. )

In terms of semi-final qualification record, Ireland has taken part in seven Eurovision semi-finals since the system was introduced in 2004: having finished in the Top 10 (non-Big 5) countries in the previous years, Ireland pre-qualified for the finals in 2004 and 2007. The Irish record was relatively poor in the country’s early semi-final appearances, but the Irish record has improved significantly in more recent times with the Irish act making it to the final on the country’s last three attempts. Semi Final qualification record 57%: Ireland has qualified from the semi-finals on four occasions (2006, 2010, 2011, 2012) and has missed out on three occasions (2005, 2008, 2009).

If we compare Ireland’s qualification record (2004-2012) with those of the other countries in this semi-final (as detailed above), we see that Ireland compares relatively favourably with most of these and would again rank in the Top 10 in this regard: 1. Ukraine, 2. Russia, 3. Moldova, 4. Serbia, 5. Denmark, 6. Ireland, 7j. Lithuania/Croatia, 9. Cyprus, 10. Estonia, 11. Austria, 12j. Slovenia/Belarus, 14. Belgium, 15. The Netherlands, 16. Montenegro. 

Carrying out a similar analysis for the Semi Final 2 based on their qualification records in previous Eurovision semi-finals would lead us to conclude that the countries in this semi-final would be ranked as follows: 1j. Greece and Romania (100% – 6 semi finals), 3. Azerbaijan (100% – 4 semi finals), 4j. Armenia and Georgia (80% – 5 semi finals), 6j. Norway and Hungary (67% – 6 semi finals), 8j. Albania and Iceland (63% – 8 semi finals),  10. FYR Macedonia (56% – 9 semi finals), 11j. Israel and Finland (50% – 8 semi finals), 13. Malta (43% – 7 semi finals),  14. Latvia (38% – 8 semi finals), 15. Switzerland (25% – 8 semi finals), 16. Bulgaria (13% – 8 semi finals), 17. San Marino (0% – 3 semi finals). 

So, there can be no doubt that this year’s semi-final draw is a pretty good one for Ireland’s act, Ryan Dolan, and, on the law of averages, what is a strong Irish entry should be hopeful of progressing to the final, but the margins – especially with six Former Soviet states and four Former Yugoslav states taking part in this semi-final – will be very tight and nothing is for definite! The draw position again will be a key factor here and this year it was in the lap of this year’s Swedish Eurovision Song Contest show producers and not the gods… 😮 But getting to perform in 13th position is one of the better draw positions to get in a semi-final, if not as good as Jedward’s last-on-the-night draw positions in the 2011 and 2012 semi-finals, and this will help Ryan Dolan’s prospects also. 

Advertisements

Tags:

One Response to “Who’s who in Ireland’s 2013 Eurovision Song Contest semi final?: aka Can Ireland make it to the Final?”

  1. k00st31 Says:

    Reblogged this on Eurovision,I love you!.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: